Arrests made after hundreds of millions of pounds allegedly stolen from victims because of iSpoof website.
The Met police have smashed a global online fraud shop selling tools that allowed criminals to carry out phone scams on hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting victims.
Detectives disabled the iSpoof website as part of the biggest anti-fraud operation ever mounted in the UK.
Criminals using software purchased from the illegal site targeted victims around the world in order to steal hundreds of millions of pounds.
The subscription service, allegedly set up by 34-year-old Teejai Fletcher, who lived in a luxury flat in the Docklands, allowed heartless criminals to disguise their phone numbers and trick unsuspecting people into believing they were being called by their bank.
Armed with details of their financial transactions purchased from the dark web, the fraudsters were able to trick victims into disclosing secret PIN codes allowing them to empty their accounts.
The average losses suffered by those targeted is estimated at £10,000, but one person is known to have had £3 million stolen.
iSpoof was launched in December 2020 and at one stage boasted almost 60,000 criminal users across the world.
Details of the website were advertised on fraudulent channels on the Telegram platform and criminals would pay up to £5,000 a month in Bitcoins to access the software tools.
In the 12 months until August 2022 around 10 million fraudulent calls were made globally via iSpoof, with around 3.5 million taking place in the UK.
The site was so popular among phone scammers that at one stage it was estimated 20 people every minute were being contacted using the illegal software tools.
Police have arrested 120 suspected phone scammers around the UK, with 103 of those in London.
Other arrests are taking place across the world, including in Australia, France, Ireland and Holland.
Scotland Yard is now appealing for potential victims to come forward and detectives are preparing to send text messages to 70,000 people whose phone numbers were used by iSpoof scammers.
Over the next two days police will send SMS messages to those who may have been affected with details about how to report any suspicious activity they have been exposed to.
Sir Mark Rowley, the Met Commissioner said it represented the biggest fraud operation ever mounted in the UK and signalled a “different approach” from law enforcement in tackling cyber crime.
He said: “This operation is about getting to those who create that industrialisation of fraud, who sell the tools that enable your average criminals to become fraudsters and create tens of thousands of victims.”
He added: “We are trying to industrialise our response to the organised criminals industrialisation of the problem.”
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, who leads on cyber crime for the Met, said: “By taking down iSpoof we have prevented further offences and stopped fraudsters targeting future victims.
“Our message to criminals who have used this website is we have your details and are working hard to locate you, regardless of where you are.”
Mr Fletcher has been charged with making or supplying articles for use in fraud, participating in activities of an organised crime group and proceeds of crime offences.
He is next due to appear at Southwark Crown Court on Dec 6.